Sometimes my children seem like normal and delightful humans, destined for a bright future.

At other times, they seem like deranged clowns, intent on destroying my sanity.

Case in point:

Eli recently came into possession of a Jack in the Box Christmas tree ornament. It's just a Jack head, wearing a hat. Cute, but destined to be another piece of discarded plastic, cluttering up the house.

For a few days, he's been hanging it in various places around the house and yard. He seems fascinated by how long it does or does not stay hanging and what happens to it while in that position. On the way home from the grocery store today, he had me hang it from the ceiling of the minivan.

Then I got to listen to a play-by-play description of the motions caused by the movement of the car:

"He's nodding yes. . . .
Now he's nodding no. . . .
Now he's dancing. . . .
Now he's swinging. . . .
Now he's dancing again. . . .
Now he's nodding no. . . ."

I really don't know how long that went on because I eventually disappeared inside myself and let one of my alternate personalities take control of the driving. I do know that I had a splitting headache by the time we got home.

(On the plus side, the effects of my medication change are fading, day by day. I had more motivation today than I've had in two weeks. Tomorrow's homeschool day will be a good test of how close I am to being leveled out. Hopefully the extreme irritability will not resurface!)



I was just sitting on my bed, reading a book. That's a shockingly difficult thing to do in the same room as children. They don't seem to understand that you can't read and listen to their constant narration of life at the same time. I swear I spent five minutes trying to read one short paragraph.

Anyway, I was sitting there, reading, and Eli climbed up next to me. Naked, and fresh out of the bath, mind you. He buried his head in my gut and said, "New Braunfels is in your belly button."

You really just never know what's going to come out of that boy's mouth.

Now, Doug and the kids are taking a walk/bike ride to the mail box, which I usually love to do, but it's chilly out there and I'm tired. It has been a great, but very long, day and I'm finally making myself the cup of coffee that I wanted five hours ago, but didn't have time for.

I went to BodyPump this morning. It was great! I hated it, and I'll be back there next week, hating it again.

Next, I went to the dentist. I got an A+ for taking care of my teeth. The hygienist said it was the cleanest mouth she'd seen all week. Of course, they also said I have the beginnings of a cavity between two of my teeth. If it gets worse, I'll be looking at my first-ever filling. Boo!

After that, I read The Sneeches to Eli's Pre-K class. After forgetting I'd signed up to do that last week, I rescheduled for today. Then I talked about it, out loud, every day, just to make sure it stayed in my brain. I wrote it on the calendar too, but that obviously didn't help last week!

This afternoon was the Defender Dash. Eli ran with the 3:10 group and Lila ran with the 4:10 group. I've never seen such stamina and perseverance from Eli! He was a compact little running machine! He worked hard and really enjoyed himself!

Lila, just like last year, approached it as more of an afternoon stroll. She did jog a few laps, but mostly walked. At one point, she and two of her friends were walking in a row, all holding hands. I love how different the two of them are! And I'm proud of both of them.

Once everyone had finished up and collected their nifty Defender Dash water bottles, we took them to Toastie's Sub Shop for an early dinner. They were both very excited about that and I don't think I've ever seen them eat so much food! The exercise did them good!

And now, as I mentioned, the kids have had their bath and I am finally sitting down.

Yesterday was terrible. Today was great. Tomorrow, I'm just hoping for normal!



There's a good reason why Doug is my best friend, though I tend to forget at times. ("Why the hell are you making so much noise with that chip bag? And do you have to use so many words when you talk?")

But sometimes we actually get to spend time alone together, and that's when I remember! We love to laugh and we're good at making each other do so. And, while we tend to disagree on many things, we are of one accord on the deeper issues of the heart and soul.

Date nights (and days - praise God for children who are old enough to be at someone else's house for 24 hours!) allow us to have uninterrupted conversations, so that we can remember these things. And even when we do disagree, it's much easier to be grown-up about it when we're alone and not exhausted!

Here's an example of an actual conversation that Doug and I had while the kids were gone this weekend...

Me: [from upstairs] "FYI - I have boobies up here!"
Doug: [from downstairs] "Boobiiiiiiieeeesssss!!!!!"

. . . what?

Okay, so not ALL of our conversations are deep and meaningful.



On goes the river
  And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
  Away down the hill.
    -- Robert Louis Stevenson

I'm still just waiting for my brain to stabilize. There were a couple of crazy days. There were a couple of Nearly Normal days. These past two days have been a little difficult - not crazy, but not normal. My mood is still swinging, but not as wildly.

Everything just affects me a little more strongly than it normally would. For example, this evening. We just came home from a very fun time of dinner, games, and hanging out with some new friends. Over the years, I've gotten better at being comfortable in social situations.

I'd still rather have teeth pulled than be in a large crowd. But a party of a dozen people I know, in the comfort of someone's home... that I can do! So I had a great time this evening and really enjoyed laughing together and hearing more about people's lives.

The problem that I still struggle with comes AFTER the party. I get in the car to go home, or I say goodbye to the last person leaving my house, and I start replaying the entire gathering in my mind. I second-guess every word that I said and wonder if I was likeable enough.

(Good golly, Angela. Neurotic much?)

Under normal circumstances, I can keep this in check pretty well. I recognize that I am a quirky person and the filter between my brain and my mouth doesn't always work properly. I might not love everything I said and did, but I've gotten pretty good at just being myself.

Tonight, with my system still out of whack, I've become convinced that everything I said was stupid and no one is going to like me anymore. (Seriously.) Thankfully, I know this is not real. I am insecure, but I'm not that insecure. I'm trying to relax and move my thoughts on to other things.

It is so tempting to think, "Oh no! I'm taking less medication and now I'm a crazy and insecure person again!" BUT, I know that's not true. The way you feel and act after a medication change is not who you are.

It's the result of your brain freaking out and demanding the chemicals that it's gotten used to being fed. Well, tough luck, brain! You're going to have to start making your own chemicals again. And tough luck, Satan! You aren't getting into my head that easily!

I do recognize that I might end up needing the higher dose of medication after all. If I get a couple of months down the road and I'm still fighting to regulate my emotions and own my own thoughts (or if my obsessive/compulsive personality type is turning back into a disorder), then I'll reevaluate.

For the time being, however, I'm going to assume that I'll be back to normal in a month or two. I'm going to keep my eyes on God and remember that He's carried me through much harder times than this! I have courage because I have Jesus.

Also, I'll take any hugs that you feel like giving.



Who put wisdom in the heart
or gave the mind understanding?
(Job 38:36)

I am ever-so-happy to say that today was a Nearly Normal Day. Sure, I was a little weepy while watching Frozen tonight, but come on! It's a great movie!

[I also cry during some portions of the Harry Potter movies, Benny & Joon, Stranger than Fiction, UP, and Little Women... And at the end of Toy Story movies, Moulin Rouge, Wreck-It Ralph, and Signs... And through the entirety of The Return of the King.]

I am not naïve enough to think that I'm done with the physical ramifications of the medication change, but I'm also not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I will take a beautiful and drama-free first day of Spring and say Thank You!

After a couple of recent conversations, I feel I should revisit my reasons behind weaning off of the anti-depressants. It might seem like an arbitrary and ill-advise experiment, but it was always my goal to eventually wean off of the medication.

I recognize the essential role that it has played in my life, but it bothers me greatly that I am putting manufactured chemicals into my body every day. Several months ago, I began to realize that I am in better mental, emotional, and physical shape than I have ever been in my life.

I have gone through years of therapy and Bible study and prayer. A couple of simple changes in diet have eliminated my Fibromyalgia symptoms and dramatically reduced my allergies. I get great exercise that sends natural endorphins pumping through my body.

It seemed (and still does) like the perfect time to start this process.

I hope no one feels judged by my opinions on this. I am weaning off of medications and you aren't. So what? I feel very strongly about how I take care of my body, but I'm no one's doctor.

Do I think that antidepressants are overprescribed? A thousand times, yes. Do I think that you shouldn't be taking them? I don't know anything about your physical needs! And let's not forget - God used those pills to change my life!

Prescription medication alone is not enough to effect a lasting change, but they are a VERY valuable tool.

In closing...



“Time can take nothing from the Bible. It is the living monitor. Like the sun, it is the same in its light and influence to man this day which it was years ago. It can meet every present inquiry and console every present loss.” – Richard Cecil

What a day! I've taken the new, lower dose of medication a couple of times now and my body is not pleased. I woke up this morning with my head full of weird dreams, and covered in a cold sweat. I got out of bed and faced waves of dizziness and nausea.

None of this was very motivating, as you can imagine. I decided that dizziness and BodyPump were not a safe combination, so I skipped my normal trip to the gym. I just slogged through the morning routines of getting the kids off to school and then plopped my funky tummy on the couch.

At one point, I was forcing myself to finish watching a mediocre movie. It ended up being really sad at the end and I started crying. That, in itself, is not strange. But the 10 minutes of uncontrollable sobbing that followed were a little odd.

At another point, I decided that it was warm enough outside to open the windows and get some fresh air flowing. I opened ONE window and then got distracted. TWO HOURS later, I realized what I'd done.

I tried again. This time, I managed to open two windows before I got distracted. Seriously out of control. I told Doug that he might want to stop by the house before band practice tonight, just to make sure that we still have two children.

I was actually feeling halfway normal by the time I picked Eli up from school. We planned on going to Petco on the way home, to stock up on guinea pig supplies. As I was driving away from the school, it hit me...

I was supposed to come and read a Dr. Seuss book to Eli's class this afternoon and I totally forgot.

It was written on the calendar. I was excited about it. Eli was excited about it. It just slipped my mind. I felt like the biggest jerk EVER. Eli hadn't mentioned the mistake and I wasn't sure he was even aware of it, so I didn't say anything.

It was all I could do to hold myself together and not dissolve into tears again. I was objectively aware that I was over-reacting, but my grasp on rational behavior was tenuous (at best). I sent a message to Eli's teacher to apologize and beg for a chance to come and read a book next week instead.

It will all be fine, of course. Eli finally did mention it, much later, and in a very casual way. I told him how very sorry I was and assured him that Mrs. Gump (whom I'd heard back from) was going to find a time for me to come in next week. [sigh]

There is often a dog rescue/adoption group that sets up outside Petco, and today was no exception. Once we had gotten all the goodies we needed inside, we spent some time out with the pooches. There were two tiny Chihuahua puppies and Eli fell head-over-heels in love with one of them.

We sat by the cage for a long time, while he gushed over the awesome cuteness of this puppy and talked about how much he wished we could adopt it. I sent Doug a text message, asking if there was anything I could say to convince him that this was a good idea.

His response was, "Not that spontaneously." That's not a no...

It's worth noting that I kind of hate Chihuahuas. I've always declared that they are not really dogs and I'd never want to own one. But somehow, this one just seemed right with Eli. They looked so sweet together and the puppy was just the right size for my Little Dude.

Anyway, things went on fairly normally as we went back home, picked Lila up from school, and went to the library. After the library, we stopped by a park. It's the only park I know of that still has dangerous metal playground equipment and we all love it!

I got a little manic at this point and started running around and playing on the equipment with the kids. I went down the (hazardously tall, narrow, and steep) slide, ran to get the old-school merry-go-round spinning and jumped on with the kids, climbed across the monkey bars (i'm pretty sure this provided some sort of healing from the childhood trauma of not being strong enough to do it), went as high as I could on the swings, and even hung upside down by my knees on the monkey bar.

It was pretty awesome.

Once I started approaching muscle failure, we loaded up and went to Mighty Fine for dinner. I was still feeling sort of manic and didn't want to go home and face the grumblings about eating leftovers for dinner. Plus, Doug was gone for the evening, which is a good excuse for surprises.

At the restaurant, it was Lila's turn for a wild mood swing. We were standing in line, about to order our food, when her face just crumpled and she started crying. Turns out, she had been reading one of her new library books and it had a sad beginning.

The story starts with a litter of kittens and their mommy cat. The pet owner took the kittens away from the mommy and dumped them on the side of the road. This was breaking my poor little girl's heart! I was totally sympathetic. After lots of hugging and talking about it, she felt better.

Still, when she came downstairs from changing into her pajamas this evening, her face was all red and covered in tears again. Sweet girl.

Now the children are in bed in their room sleeping having a wild party. Doug is home, and things are pretty low-key. My only problem right now is that I keep swinging between being too hot and too cold. I was freezing a little while ago and now I'm almost sweating.

Good times.



"Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him." (Job 13:15)

Okay, maybe that quote is a little melodramatic for the situation that I'm facing, but it's still relevant!

Do you remember, back in September, when I talked about my plan to slowly (really, very slowly) wean myself off antidepressants? At that time, I went from 50 mg of Paxil CR per day to 25 mg per day. It totally freaking sucked.

But, I stuck with it and eventually my body normalized. I am back to doing just dandy, and with only half the medication. Now it's time for the next step. I met with my doctor last week and we agreed to take it down to 12.5 mg per day.

The first time, I experienced the following symptoms of withdrawal: vivid dreams, intense emotions, anger and frustration, depression, nausea and diarrhea, headaches, poor concentration, and short-term memory problems.

I don't expect this time to be any different. Due to an unfortunate combination of busyness and procrastination, I was late in picking up my new prescription, so I missed a couple of doses altogether. (See disclaimer.)

Disclaimer: I did not plan this. You should never stop taking prescribed medication without talking to your doctor first. It's a bad idea!

Anyway, I'm already dizzy and my emotions are jumping around like water on a hot skillet. (Is that a saying?) I also can't seem to access all of my vocabulary, which is particularly annoying to a person who loves words.

I joked with Doug that I was just getting a head start on my withdrawal. (See disclaimer again.)

I'm quite sure that I'll be mentioning this topic again, but that's enough for now. Please keep me - and my family - in your prayers. If you aren't the type of person who prays... pray anyway. This level of crazy needs all the intercession it can get!


And now for something completely different. Zoo photos!

Oooh, no you di'int!


What we wanted was a nice family photo. What we got was poor lighting,
wind-blown hair, a boy who did not want to have his picture taken, I don't
even know what Lila's got going on with that face...
and Doug, who actually looks nice!

Eli, still not interested in the photos.
And seriously, what the heck was wrong with my daughter?!?
I swear she wasn't drunk.

Eli's Favorite

I think Handy (that's the stupid stuffed dog's name) should be glad there was
glass between him and the wild dog. Pooch looks like he wants a
Snoopy Snack.

End of the day; dinner on the Riverwalk; Eli's new stuffed snake.
Eli looks like he's asleep with his eyes open... but at least he's smiling!

Grammie Love

More people who are asleep with their eyes open.



No one thinks of winter when the grass is green! -- Rudyard Kipling

It's supposed to be 80 degrees tomorrow. Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits!

It will be hard to spend the day inside, doing our school work, when the weather is so beautiful! I'll have to look at our assignments and see what we could do outside. At the very least, it will be a day when the kids fly out the door as soon as it's break time!

The kids did pretty well today, given our week of exhausting fun. We saw a little turmoil this morning. Lila was talking to everyone like they were stupid and Eli became hostile when he was told to get dressed for school before he had dessert.

It was diffused pretty quickly, however, and all were fairly cheerful by the time they left for work and school. They came home predictably fatigued and still had to go to ballet (lila) and swim (eli) class. I think we all handled that pretty well too.

By dinner, those poor people were running on fumes! They each had to go spend five minutes in their room for telling the other that they hate them. Then it took a turn for the silly. Eli totally lost his mind and spent about five minutes cackling uncontrollably.

That pretty much ended dinner.


Here are a few more photos of our Spring Break fun. These were taken at the New Austin Children's Museum. That was the day that I'd had all the fun I could handle, so I stayed home. As far as I'm concerned, the children's museum is the 7th circle of hell.

No. Make that the 6th circle. Swimming pools (all of them) are the 7th circle of hell! But I digress...

The Master Builder

The Artist

Giant Lite Brite! I want one of these in my house!




"It will not always be summer; build barns." -- Hesiod

We have had a rockin' good time this week. The activities have not all been things that I wanted to do, but we made some wonderful memories! (And I did allow myself to skip the Thinkery, in the interest of mental well-being.)

Today, we went to Pioneer Farms (living history park) and it was so. much. fun.

In fact, Lila and I enjoyed it so much that we are seriously thinking of applying to be volunteers there! Eli would probably do it with us, but I'm guessing that Doug will skip that particular adventure. He's not a big fan of livestock or playing dress-up and pretend.

Here are a few of the best photos from our day...

Can't you just see Lila and I doing this?

Eli had a run-in with a barbed wire fence.

Lila was completely fascinated by the blacksmith.

What's a farm without a barn cat?



We stopped by the mailbox on our way home from dinner tonight.

Doug: Do you need the key from my key chain?
Me: I don't have my keys with me, so...
Doug: . . . So you need the key from my key chain.
Me: That's what I said!
Doug: [exasperated] Why do you have to answer questions like a woman?!?

Now Doug is trying to put the kids to bed, after they ate candy on the way home. That seems like fitting punishment for such an offensive comment. As I type this, I can hear the kids doing spirited renditions of 'Everything is Awesome!'

He doesn't look like a jerk, does he?
(Photo taken before Daddy Daughter Dance)

On the plus side, today we went to the IMAX theater, the Texas State History Museum, the Texas State Capitol, and a birthday dinner (for Grammie) with grandparents and cousins. So they should not have any trouble falling asleep, time change or no time change!

They had better sleep well, too, because we're headed to the San Marcos outlets and then the San Antonio Zoo tomorrow. Our plan for Spring Break, apparently, is to reach such a complete level of exhaustion that everyone begs to go back to school and work!



Nightingales sing,
In time of Spring.
  -- The New England Primer

I am so tired of Winter. We haven't had the crazy snow storms or the 100-car pile-ups. The temperature has not dropped below 0 degrees. I know... but I don't care that other people have had worse winters than us.

I'm over it. I'm ready for the brief, but blissfully perfect, Central Texas Spring. I want to see wildflowers. I want to walk from my car to a building without any part of my body freezing along the way.

I want my children's insistence on wearing shorts/skirts, t-shirts, flip-flops, and no jacket to be seasonally appropriate, so people will stop looking at me like I'm a terrible person!

As far as I'm concerned, Winter should immediately give way to Spring on March 1st.

Peanut Butter Face and Beautiful Brown Eyes
A few other random things:

* A few days ago, I got Eli out of the bath and dried him off. I left him to get dressed, while I went downstairs. Several minutes later, I found him in the kitchen - completely naked. Then...

Me: Eli! You aren't supposed to come downstairs until you've got your clothes on!
Eli: Aaah! I forgot about getting dressed! . . . I thought I was a naked rock star!

* I feel (rather strongly) that bringing a Tempurpedic memory foam pillow to a pillow fight is cheating. Everyone else in my house disagrees. Somebody back me up here!

* I wore full make-up today, for the first time since we took family photos at Thanksgiving. At church, Lila was staring bemusedly at my face and said, "Mom... why are your lips kind of pink?"

* Earlier this week, in the span of two hours: I tripped over a box in my closet and fell down, tripped and fell while climbing the stairs and spilled a cup of peanuts all over, slipped on Lila's bed canopy and fell down, and hurt my hand through some manner of random flailing. I think I need adult supervision.

* I finally finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo and have since moved on to The Memory Keeper's Daughter. The former was, undeniably, good literature. The latter is, undeniably, an easier read. It is also destined to make me cry.

* We've been working, for a couple of months now, to fatten Cordelia back up after she lost so much weight with her heart problem. Now our other cat, Cookie, has been put on a diet. This ought to be interesting.

I think that's all I've got for now...



"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." -- Jim Elliot

Snuggled up with a kitty, reading a book about fairies.
That's my girl!
I'm so tired this evening that I just found myself sitting and staring at my computer, with my mouth hanging open. Although, the "mouth hanging open" part has more to do with the guinea-pig-hay-induced sneezing fit that I just had, than with fatigue.

Gypsy gets a clean cage. I get to spend 30 minutes blowing my nose. Seems fair. [sarcasm]

Today, while very busy, was also nice. Lila's music class performed during the Second Trimester Fine Arts Salon. It was super sweet and I got a little weepy.

I was chatting with her music teacher beforehand, explaining that my early arrival this year was to make darn sure we didn't miss the performance, like we did last year. She took the opportunity to tell me how much she enjoys having Lila in her class.

She said Lila is always fully present, pays attention, sings without reserve, and has a sweet spirit. Those are all wonderful things for a mommy to hear about her baby.

Especially since Lila's been having such a rough week at home! She's been completely off her rocker since Monday, and it started the morning after she had dairy after several weeks of being off of it. Coincidence? We'll see.

This is the level of crazy and tired that we used to see from her on a regular basis. She had gotten much better though, since we started seeing the naturopath. She got several doses of silica, a homeopathic remedy that helps balance the whole body.

We quickly saw an improvement in energy and mood; an improvement that continued once we took her off all dairy. That was an experiment to see if she's allergic to it. It's looking like she might be. I could go into more detail, but I really don't feel like it.

At any rate, the salon was delightful and I got to hear sweet things about my daughter.

It didn't make sense to go home between the salon and picking Eli up, so I just went to the on-campus coffee shop and read my book while I waited. It was a welcome moment of calm in the middle of the busyness.

Unfortunately, I now have to admit that I've become a Coffee Snob. The acceptance came after I ordered a cup of coffee at the shop and only drank about 10% of it. I have reached the point where I can only be fully satisfied by a cup of coffee if it's French Press (medium to dark roast) (served black).

I like to amuse no one but myself by saying, "I take my coffee like I take my men... handsome and intelligent."



Lila brought home a partially completed story that she's working on at school and it's too good not to share (complete with spelling errors)!

"One day I was jumping in a volcano! It was a good thing I was wering safty gear becas I went all the way to magma. it was hot! I was amased at the site of magma. It was cool. I loved it! It was so awsom I did not want to go. It was geting shaky. I knew it was time to go. I took one last look at it. I ran as fast as I could. Running made me tired so I stoped to eat some chocolate. Then I ran all--"

That's where it ends, rather abruptly. I can't wait to find out what happens next!

Or maybe that's where it ended because the magma caught up to her while she was stopping to eat chocolate...



"It is good to praise Yahweh, to sing praise to Your name, Most High..." (Psalm 92:1)

In our church life group/Bible study this afternoon, we had a really great discussion about justice. The passage that we were talking about was Genesis 18:16-33, where Abraham pleads for God to spare the city of Sodom.

We discussed definitions of justice and mercy, and what those things look like. I shared the struggle among my family right now as we pursue earthly justice for Linda's murder. I shared about my knowledge and belief in God's mercy vs. my human desire for punishment and "fairness".

In the course of our conversation, I came to some very life-altering understandings. Before I get to that, however, let me try to lay out some foundational truths (as simply as possible).

When talking about justice, it's good to start with a standard. What are we judging against when we look at a person's actions? Well, from a Christian perspective, the standard is Jesus. The standard is perfection.

The Bible says, "There is no one righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10) That is to say, we all sin. Every person, every day. There is no person in the world who lives up to the standard of perfection. The only perfect person who has ever existed is Jesus.

It also says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) God is perfect. Jesus is perfect. All the rest of us are sinners and sin earns death. For everyone.

There are three words I want to define:

Justice - Getting what we deserve.
Mercy - Being spared from what we deserve.
Grace - Receiving gifts that we do not deserve.

If the standard for justice is perfection, then we all fall short. No one is perfect.
If the wages of sin is death, then justice would be for all of us to die.
God loves us and He knows that we cannot achieve perfection on our own.
He sent Jesus to earth, to be the only perfect person, and then He laid our punishment - the punishment for all mankind - on Jesus.

Jesus took the punishment that we deserve. (Justice)
God offers us the gift of life, if we will accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. (Grace)
If we accept that sacrifice, then we put our old life to death with Jesus and are raised again with him. We are spared from the punishment we deserve. (Mercy)

And now we come back to my struggle with the idea of justice for Josh Thurber, the man who killed my Aunt Linda. I have believed all along that this man deserves punishment (both earthly and eternal). I have also believed that the gift of God's grace is available to him, just as much as it is to me.

I know and believe these things, but the question I struggle with is this:

If justice is receiving the punishment you deserve, and Josh were to receive God's mercy... does that mean that eternal justice was not served?

I knew that can't be the case because God does not contradict his own Character. God is just. God is merciful. These things have to be true at the same time.

Honestly, I haven't spent a great deal of time thinking about it. I trust God and I know that I don't have to understand how He works. He is good, even when I don't understand it.

But this evening, all the pieces came together for me. I haven't got the remotest idea whether or not Josh is going to give his life to God at some point, but here's what I realized.

If Josh does accept Jesus' death on his behalf, then eternal justice will be served because Jesus died for Josh's sin. Jesus took what Josh deserved. There's no "getting away with it". The sin was life-shattering for many people and it will be avenged, either through Josh's spiritual death... or through Jesus' death.

If Josh does accept that gift of grace, then he is putting his old life to death with Jesus and he is accepting the new life that Jesus offers. In the same way, when I came to a realization of my own sin, I allowed my old life to die with Christ, and then I was raised again with Him, a new person, holy because He is holy.

If I see Josh in Heaven one day, it will not be the man who murdered my aunt. It will be the new man, born through Jesus, for the glory of God.

And how mind-blowing is that? The only perfect person to ever walk the earth... died to pay the price for a murderer's sins.

And He died to pay the price for my sins.

And He died to pay the price for your sins.

Praise God, who is just and merciful and graceful and LOVING!


Family Tragedy - Update

"Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth." -- Aesop

Last known photo of Linda. Dated 5-11-2013.
For those who are interested in what's going on with my Aunt Linda's murder investigation, these are the two latest updates from her brother, my Uncle Jim.

Proceed with caution. Some of this information is... difficult.

Update #1:
"We met with the prosecutor on my sister Linda's murder case yesterday. He said that because of the law, Thurber won't get life without parole but will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison. The normal charge is 5 years to life but because of his violent history, outstanding warrants, past prison time and the violence of Linda's murder it was set at 25 years to life. This increases the *...minimum* mandatory time before he would be up for parole from 2.5 years to 12.5 years because in Texas, you must serve half your sentence before you are even eligible for parole. The prosecutor said that they will not be accepting plea bargains because their case is so strong. Thurber's public defender is a good one but the prosecutor said they want a good attorney for him so there is far less chance he will be able to demand an appeal or mistrial based on an incompetent attorney. Thurber also has no defense if he claims he was under the influence of meth at the time of the murder. Involuntary intoxication of any kind is not a defense. He cannot get off on insanity either because the definition is that a criminal doesn't know right from wrong. Thurber went to great lengths to try and hide the crime and the police believe he was in fact, planning to try and hide her body.

"The average sentence for a murder like this is 60 years, 30 must be served before eligibility for parole. The prosecutor said that Josh has been in prison twice before and it has not changed his behavior. He tried to kill his last girlfriend three times, the last time putting her in the hospital with a concussion, stealing $600 from her and fleeing. He has two warrants out of two different states, broke parole and flees each time he gets into trouble so he is a much bigger risk to society. Because of this, he will either get a longer sentence than 60 years, or never be granted parole because of his violent history.

"I know it's not a lot but I take some comfort in knowing Linda's last act was to see that Josh never hurts another woman, or anyone ever again. I lost my sister, but it accomplished something that no one else had been able to do until then. I know she is in a better place, gets to be with my dad and mom and the rest of our family. She's not in pain, doesn't worry, and is safe from now on."
Update #2:
"The following information may be too graphic for some of you and if so, you might want to skip this part. I'm posting this information because I truly believe that seeing Thurber's behavior, mindset, violence and final murderous act, might ...somehow aid others to recognize such behavior and seek help or remove themselves from a similar situation.

"The medical examiner determined that my sister's throat was cut *after* she was deceased, as were the cuts on her wrists, arms and legs. When I first heard of these injuries, I asked police if they thought he was trying to dismember her body. They declined to comment at that time. When I spoke with the prosecutor yesterday, he provided additional information on this act. He stated a fourth witness, a teenage boy who had done yard work for Thurber in the past, was called by Thurber early Monday (detectives believe Linda was murdered late Sunday night or very early Monday morning). According to detective, Thurber asked the teen to come over on Monday morning and "watch the outside of the house" and not allow anyone on the property. He was also directed to take up all the paving blocks in the backyard (see photo) and dig up the yard beneath them. Thurber then told him to "Delete my number from your phone, delete all the texts we sent and forget we ever knew each other" and directed him not to tell anyone he was at the house that day or what he had done. This explained why all the blocks were stacked up in the backyard and a hole started.

"I have no doubt now that Thurber had systematically gone about planning to dismember Linda's body and bury her in the backyard, then replace the paving stones over her body. He initially attacked her in the bedroom; we believe killing her almost immediately with a hammer, wrapped her in a plastic tarp and dragged her into the bathroom where he placed her in the tub. He then began to dismember her with a machete and possibly other knives as the police took several, two machetes and a cleaver. He then cleaned up extensively in the bathroom, cleaning the floor and using commercial cleaners and bleach (bleach destroys blood evidence). For whatever reason, I suspect the meth was wearing off and he lost his nerve, and didn't finish the job. Police said when they confronted him at the front door he appeared intoxicated, as under the influence of alcohol. Meth doesn't affect you like alcohol so perhaps he was drinking to get his nerve up and finish the job, but this is just speculation on my part. In any case, it will be impossible for him to claim he "snapped" while using meth and didn't know what he was doing. He took great effort to hide the crime scene and made plans to dispose of the body. There are four key witnesses, one of which he showed Linda's body, and two others he told about the murder while they were at the house. I know he won't beat the charge and I believe (and pray) he will spend the rest of his life behind bars, never to walk among decent people, never harming another woman, and forever regretting his evil, every day for the rest of his miserable, tortured life."